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Welcome to Delta “FAKE” upgrade day 16MAY16. Your Upgrade (sidegrade) is now confirmed? Comfort Plus Upgrade day is here.

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

delta sidegrade - upgrade to comfort plus email renespoints blog review
No, Delta, this is NOT an “upgrade”. It is a SideGrade

There are few things that make me more happy in my travel life than getting the emails from Delta that my upgrade has now been confirmed. But now, for many of us, Delta is lying and sending out emails telling this when all they have done is “sidegrade” us to a Comfort Plus or C+ seat.

Now why do I, and so many others, call this a lie and Delta calls this the truth (i.e. an upgrade)? We elites who get it understand that the C+ seat is NO upgrade. It is the EXACT same seat size as the rest of coach or as Delta calls it “Main Cabin”. The ridiculousness of this is clearly talked about in the C+ FAQs page on Take a look:

“Delta Comfort+, Main Cabin, and Basic Economy are three experiences within our Main Cabin.”- Bold Mine

delta comfort plus stickers saying space for only comfort plus customers renespoints blog
Sticker is a suggestion, not a promise

We also clearly know the C+ “experience” is the same experience you get in the rest of coach. Oh sure you get a tiny bit of extra leg room and sometimes recline / pitch. You don’t have to pay for drinks and you get some snacks (sometimes) and free Delta Studio movies but other than that most of it is just more of the same coach experience.

So today I thought I would, in a series of posts throughout the day, look at the complete mess this is going to be. I will break down and look at in each post a topic that will make you scratch your head and reach for a a bottle of pain killers. Keep in mind all of this is completely logical to the mothership folks in ATL as when you only have limited ways to make more and more money you have to work with what you have.

delta says you can upgrade to middle seat
Ready to play middle seat lottery?

Let’s start with the simple one in this first post today. When you go to buy a ticket, or are on a corporate system, it “should” leave the C+ box unchecked by default and the YES to 1st class upgrades checked by default. For more you have to, either during the booking or after, “Manage” your upgrades if you wish to opt in for a C+ upgrade. I say should because if you are booking ONLY for you, say an award ticket from JFK to LAX or SFO you may, depending on status, auto “upgrade” to C+ (not saying this is a bad thing for this route, just telling you the tech in place at the current time).

Now we already know a number of points that I have blogged about when it comes to these upgrades from Delta. They are:

Again, those are the basics of what we know. Even when a elite is flying alone you may want to choose to opt OUT for this upgrade if for example only middle seats remain and the exit row aisle you have is the choice you prefer (and have selected already). Keep in mind that just because the seat map on or the Fly Delta APP shows open C+ seats they may not be available for upgrades. Yes, those seats may be blocked for sale and once you “upgrade” you may find fewer seats than were there before.

Another big issue you want to be super careful with is phone reps. This weekend there was another in the almost endless Saturday schedule changes that can impact the type of aircraft you are on, the partner airline operating the flight, the seat you “were” in and on and on. But phone reps, most times, seem to when they reissue tickets by default “upgrade” you to C+ even when you don’t ask for it. So, make sure if you do not want to get tossed out of your chosen seat you make the rep aware you DO NOT want a C+ seat. Why would you do this? The reasons could be many like traveling with others not in C+ an on and on.

So this is part one in this 16MAY16 series of posts. Next we will be looking what will happen if no space is available at the time of booking for C+ upgrades. What the impact is when you are traveling with lower tier elites or non-elites. What costs could be involved for these upgrades even for elites. The increased risk of SHENA events from gate agents due to C+ upgrades. Onboard issues with C+ seat upgrades. SDC & SDS impact on C+ seats. And a number of others as well including any questions you may ask in the posts as we go along.

Today truly is a red letter day for Delta and I bet you are going to see a week of elite meltdowns like you have never seen before. – René

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. 2 Diamonds declined an upgrade from the main cabin to C+ on my flight this morning after the gate agent called us up to the desk. She said, “What’s wrong with you guys?”

  2. Renee,
    I’m still not clear on the upgrade process. With the new system I buy a ticket in coach, then my C+ upgrade clears and the do I have to do something or will I automatically be put on the standby list for first?
    Also for DM how many days out does all this start happening ?
    Rod ( and confused in ATL )

    • @ItsNimbus – I will cover much in later posts today. However, no matter what you do with C+ or don’t do neither should (but we are talking Delta IT here so…) have any impact on 1st class upgrade shot or list as long as you have that box checked. It should always be checked by default but I would check each time you book a ticket and check back a week before flight.

  3. Traveling this week and had already as Platinum been moved to C+ shortly after booking. Imagine my surprise when the “Congratulations” email arrived on Saturday. I took a quick peek at the email and it said I’d been “upgraded” to Premium Economy whatever the heck that is… I looked online and all seats in C+ were still in place as originally set. Apparently the email was just to tease me into thinking I’d been put up front based on the subject line.. Naughty Delta.

  4. I for one have decided to not be upgraded to Comfort Plus on any flights I have booked. I only want to be upgraded from economy to First. I always choose a prefered exit row seat with lots of legroom for free with my status. Why would I choose to get bumped from that seat to possibly a middle seat comfort plus seat with less legroom and a little more cushioning as DELTA says they have. It makes no sense to me. Leave me in my comfy exit row seat or put me up first class otherwise don’t bother. If there are still comfort plus seats available when I am able to move myself a few days before the flight then maybe I would move myself if I see something I may like.

  5. Imagine my surprise when I looked at my upcoming domestic July reservation and found that I am downgraded from C+ and the system would not allow me to re-select my original C+ seats!! When I called the Diamond line to ask why all my seats were changed (I previously chose C+), the rep answered that there has been a “glitch”. She then typed away on the computer and said, “there, you should be able to select C+ now”. And I did. Ridiculous.

  6. Already happened to my husband. He doesn’t read your blog so didn’t know about the change thus didn’t know to uncheck an upgrade request when he had an exit row chosen. Sure enough, he got upgraded to a middle C+ seat. I found it strange that when I went online to change his seat, online said I couldn’t select the exit row he just came out of because it was a different fare class. Phone call to a platinum rep got it changed back to the exit row. I’m assuming that once you check that you don’t want to be upgraded that means you have no shot at a first class upgrade. I understand if delta wants to be able to sell those seats but how dumb, again, is it for delta to screw their customers who are upgrade eligible to make them check that they don’t want to be upgraded just so they don’t get stuck in the middle. I agree with you, Rene, that C+ is not that much of an upgrade but the middle seat is a definite downgrade!

    • @Chris – Notice screen shots. There is one box for 1st class UG and one box for C+ UG. Also as mentioned neither has impact on the other.

  7. Out of all of the recent #keepdescending changes, this one is the worst of all in my opinion. I will definitely not be selecting the “ugprade to C+” option as getting upgraded to a C+ middle seat is the worst possible scenario for me. I’ve been talking to people about this for months and am shocked at how many people had no idea about this change was coming. Now that it’s “live” I hope people are livid and start complaining heavily. I personally sent feedback as soon as it was announced, but Delta does not care. This is a huge marketing and revenue boom for them. Loyalty means nothing. It’s all about how much money did you spend with Delta TODAY, who cares if you’ve been flying with Delta exclusively for years.

  8. I just got my first C+ upgrade email yesterday and was giddy when I saw the subject line. Flying through ATL I had no hope of getting close to the top of the list. As soon as I saw the seat assignment, 10B, my excitement disintegrated. I was soon to be, a middle child.

    I quickly looked at the seat map to see if I could get my old seat back. A window seat only a few rows back. It was gone.

    All I can do now is politely ask the flight attendant for a triple as the drink cart comes through. The only hope of regaining any of the value that was lost.

  9. @Chris & @Rupert –

    Today this ‘new’ process and the ‘W-fare’ class (Comfort+ Seats) have no effect on your upgrades to first, however, as I wrote for René back in December 2015 this is probably coming on the horizon.

    You can read that article on Renes blog here:

    Will Delta require W+ fares for Medallion upgrade in 2016?

    As Delta begins this new policy you can be assured that the bean counters and statisticians are collecting data on every flight and the purchasing habits of all their passengers (even segregated by Medallion status, if any.) What this will tell Delta going forward is just how hard they can push and perhaps (probably?) move to a “one fare class upgrade” rule in the future.

  10. Would you consider purchasing a reasonably priced W fare if it gave you better upgrade chances? I talked to a Chisholm agent a few days ago who said that W fares would fall below YBM, but above SHQKLUTXV. If that’s the case, and W fare priority is not based on the underlying economy fare, it makes them a lot more attractive IMO.

    On an upcoming flight through ATL, C+ was $15 more, so I bought it outright. Interested to see if my chances are actually improved, particularly on the ATL-DCA segment.

  11. Well, for me the situation is a bit different as I don’t travel alone, but always with my +1. So for us a middle seat is inevitable on a classic narrowbody. Hence, a middle seat in C+ is no downgrade vs. a middle seat in “regular” main cabin (i.e. C-).
    And whoever followed Delta communication during last don’t know how many years (since the introduction of EC) knows very well, that C+ (EC) seats are the very same than those in regular Main Cabin (Economy).
    And I consider an upgrade to C+ indeed an upgrade. It is the same seat, that’s right, but with more legroom and a few other perks. Drinks, snacks (if served), entertainment (if of interest), and, not to forget, Sky boarding (as FOs we only get Zone 1 boarding).
    Sure, hat’s by far not comparable to an upgrade to first class (I know, Rene, you call it business, but that’s just a name thing ;-)). But it’s still an upgrade, even if just a minor one.
    But don’t forget that this is just the way I see it because I travel as a couple and we’re both Silvers (always traveling together means same MQM numbers ;-)). So middle seat is not the problem.
    And … what was the other thing I wanted to mention? Oh, yes, right, we just don’t like exit rows. So indeed C+ offers more legroom (for us).

  12. I just used a companion ticket which is not eligible for a 1st upgrade. With these changes, does that mean it’s also not eligible for E+ after the upgrade window opens? Husband is FO.

  13. Stephen Smith Reply

    what a circus. i flew the 16th and 17th. the agents are confused as are the passengers. agree with the other comments and let me add that most business travelers opt for Comfort Plus aisle or window not middle and also the advertisement for “your bags have a seat too” is a joke. where id the overhead bin police? i watched tons of folks just pitch their bags in the bins above first and comfort. btw, comfort is truly an economy seat with an extra “2 of legroom. no other perks on commuter flights. just another way to make flying miserable for the corp travelers paying the bills.

  14. I just had the exact same experience as @Bill19304. I booked two segments several months ago. And as a PM, I got my immediate upgrade to C+, and chose my C+ seats. Fast-fwd to a couple days ago, 4 days before my departure (which will be tomorrow), I got a pair of “Your Medallion Upgrade Has Now Been Confirmed” emails. I was thrilled until I opened them, and saw that I had been “upgraded” to the exact same C+ seats that I had already chosen months ago! Come on @Delta, fix this mess…

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